Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Magical Macquarie Island ~ Part II

Have you ever met a person who doesn't love a penguin? I know I haven't.

Please note: This is Part II of my visit to Macquarie Island.  Part I can be viewed HERE - it was posted over the weekend when apparently my comments were not working.  As I don't know whether you saw the first part I'm linking back to it as you may enjoy it.

Penguins look comical when they walk, waddling along in an upright stance and, with their white front and black back, appear to be wearing tuxedos.

It was molting time for King penguins when I visited Macquarie in November.

"Hey there, you up front...............isn't it about time you bought a new coat? I'm getting embarrassed walking the shore with you looking so raggedy".
New feathers are so small and tightly packed they look like scales, because of this penguins can move through the water sleekly, and excellent insulation is provided.

The penguin is happiest when in the water. When Summer comes to the island and time is spent on land, penguins molt their feathers and grow new ones. Splendid swimmers, with this new plumage they later return to the sea, diving deep, up to 800 feet, and may stay down for 18 minutes. They push forward with their wings which become flippers, and steer with their feet, reaching speeds of up to 25 mph. They find all their food in the sea, living off their fat deposits during their time on land for the breeding season. Only two natural enemies, the killer whale and leopard seal, are fast enough to attack them in the water.

Beautiful sleek new coats..........testing the water....

............or taking a beach stroll, a shadowy strut to show off perhaps.

A high proportion of the world's handsome King penguins (second in size only to the Emperor penguin found in Antarctica) breed on Macquarie Island. Sadly, they were exploited for oil in the 1800's and their numbers decimated, however, in recent years they have returned and formed a colony of over 3000 breeding pairs.

Part of Macquarie's Sandy Beach colony 

Paula, and Orion's First Officer (note, crew get blue parkas!) get down and dirty to meet and photograph the King youngsters. These are last season's chicks, now almost as big as their parents, but still with their fuzzy brown feathers. Rules include no touching the birds, however they sometimes touch you, which is OK.

Extremely inquisitive, these cuties crossed the demarkation line - we were not allowed to pass into the busy rookery - to visit with us! They checked out our cameras and Wellington boots. Note the mass of molted feathers everywhere.

My new best friend ~ photo by Paula

Next time in Part III, follow me along with the Kings to Sandy Bay for a visit to the amazing Royal penguin rookery, and more water fun.


  1. Oh, Mary! These are incredible little creatures and SO cute! It must have been a thrill to see them up close and in such big groups. Thanks for all the info on them...they are amazing!


  2. OMG I will never be tired of looking at your photos and reading about your trips....

  3. Oh your photographs are beautiful, how close you are to them. Love the couple walking along together, fabulous post.

  4. How amazing that must have been. They look so adorable. Your pictures are fabulous Mary!

  5. I did visit on the weekend and wondered what happened to your comments. Thanks for sharing these lovely creatures, even with the molting feathers. Interesting to see. I remember snorkeling in Hawaii one time and whales came up to us. We were told not to touch them, but they could touch us. They were a bit scary, but how fun if a penguin would come that close and touch you. What an amazing memory.

  6. They are so cute! They also look like they have a silver sheen to them.


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